A business scholar says that there are fewer product placements in scary movies, and therefore companies are missing a prime marketing moment.
Coca-Cola doesn't want a half-naked sorority girl to be drinking their soda just before she gets stabbed in the eye, that is a much different association than cute polar bears or, in the case of Budweiser, giant affectionate horses. Humor product placements, good, adventure, of course, but not horror.
Yet University of British Columbia PhD student Lea Dunn writes in an upcoming article in the
Journal of Consumer Research that consumers will cling to a product like Coke for comfort if watching a scary movie on their own - people who experienced fear while watching a film felt a greater affiliation with the present brand than those who watched films which evoke happiness, sadness or excitement.
"People cope with fear by bonding with other people. When watching a scary movie they look at each other and say 'Oh my god!' and their connection is enhanced," says newly graduated Sauder PhD student Lea Dunn. "But, in the absence of friends, our study shows consumers will create heightened emotional attachment with a brand that happens to be on hand."
Dunn also says that fear stimulates people to report greater brand attachment, even if they are limited to just seeing the product but enhanced feelings toward the brand were only generated if it was experienced at the same time as fear. If the product is presented afterward, no bond is created.
"Marketers are afraid of fear. Their worries about negative associations outweigh their desire to tap into the massive market commanded by fear-based entertainment such as horror films or video games," says Dunn. "But our study shows advertisers should consider offering up their brands as something to cling to in the dark when the knives come out and the blood starts to splatter."